NFL chief Roger Goodell encourages teams to sign Colin Kaepernick four years after he was shunned by league
Kaepernick hasn’t played a down since opting out of his contract in 2016, the same year the quarterback began his protest
The National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell, on Monday, June 15, said that he is encouraging the league's teams to sign quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Goodell made the statement about the former San Francisco 49er during ESPN's 'The Return of Sports' special.
"If he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it's gonna take a team to make that decision. I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that," Goodell, during his interview with ESPN's Mike Greenberg, said.
Kaepernick hasn’t played a down since opting out of his contract in 2016, the same year the quarterback began his protest when he was with the San Francisco 49ers. The player stirred a national controversy in an effort to protest police brutality in the country when he knelt during the national anthem. Other players soon took his cue and joined the protest in the 2016 season. Kaepernick's move drew heavy criticism from President Donald Trump, who even called for the owners of the NFL teams to fire the players who were participating in it. The NFL, in 2017, announced a rule which required all the players to stand during the anthem.
Goodell's comments come days after Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll revealed that he had received a call from another team about Kaepernick. Carroll, on Thursday, June 11, admitted that he regrets not signing Kaepernick in 2017 or 2018, and added that his kneeling protests were "never the issue". The Seahawks coach also revealed that Kaepernick was an "obvious" candidate to be a starter in 2017 when he worked out for the Seahawks. The team, however, only had a backup job to offer him at the time. The Seahawks had reportedly scheduled another meeting with Kaepernick in the spring of 2018 but they eventually backed out. It was reported at the time that the NFL team canceled because Kaepernick refused to agree that he would not kneel for the national anthem.
The NFL's change of approach towards Kaepernick comes amid the widespread protests against police brutality and George Floyd's death in police custody. Floyd, an unarmed black man, died on May 25 as police officer Derek Chauvin, continued to kneel on his neck for over eight minutes. The NFL, on June 5, released a video where Goodell apologized on behalf of the league for not listening to their players on racial inequality. The video was released a day after many NFL players released a clip slamming the league for not condemning racism earlier.
"We had spent time prior to that understanding all the frustration, fear and sadness. When the video came out on Thursday it was very powerful. It was appropriate for me to respond," Goodell said. "We should have listened to our players earlier including Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid, Kenny Stills, Malcolm Jenkins and so many people who really brought these issues to light."
The NFL chief also added that he wants to include Kaepernick's voice on how the league should approach social issues. "I hope we're at a point now where everybody's committed to making long-term, sustainable change," Goodell said. "If his efforts are not on the field but continuing to work in this space, we welcome him to that table and to help us, guide us, help us make better decisions about the kinds of things that need to be done in the communities."
Kaepernick has continued to keep in shape, in hope that a franchise will sign him and he will get to play again. The quarterback, who had led San Francisco to the 2013 Super Bowl, last February had reached a confidential settlement with the NFL after alleging that the league blackballed him. The NFL had arranged tryouts for the quarterback at Atlanta Falcons training facility in Georgia last year, however, the location was shifted to a high school stadium at the last minute. Kaepernick, while commenting on the change, had stated that it was done so that the media could be present. Reports state that Kaepernick's team decided to move the location of his workout after they accused the NFL of not acting rightfully.